It took only a few moments at the Hallmark store to prayerfully choose just the right card to send to my ‘sister’ who is battling cancer. Although I knew she has a sense of humor I almost second guessed myself that the humorous one I selected may not be appreciated. As it turned out the card was just what she needed at that moment of her journey and she made sure I learned of its welcome arrival. Soon I was off on the hunt to find more humorous cards. Each time she let me know the cards were always reflective of what she was experiencing that day and provided some laughter. I found that selecting and sending the cards was not only blessing my sister but it also became therapy for me.
When our sisters experience health issues, we are often at a loss to know how to be encouraging and helpful, especially to those who suffer the long hard fight of cancer. There is this need to do something and we search for ways to reach out in love, to express our deep feelings of concern.
Meals are often the first act of caring, to express compassion through the gift of cooking and delivering delicious foods. In doing a search on the internet I learned there are wonderful recipes under ‘Meal Ministry Meals’ and helpful tips for preparation and delivery. Lasagna appears to top the list along with baked potato bar, wedding soup, chili and chicken enchiladas. Chocolate chip cookies won the dessert preference. Before meal sign-up sheets appear, it is best that someone check with the family for how frequently meals would be appreciated and ask about food allergies. Attaching a note to the food container is helpful with the name of the dish and heating or preparation instructions. Another thoughtful idea may be to place the food in disposal containers so that dishes need not be returned.
Cards, meals and prayer shawls (see the July column) are not the only ways our Franklin Conference women reach out in caring. At a recent pastors’ spouse support group we were touched by Jeannie’s story of her distress when hair loss occurred shortly after her first chemo treatment. When her hair began to grow back, the decision of when to stop wearing her wig was very difficult. To help her in the transition she invited the women at church to join her in wearing a hat for the first two weeks. Arriving at the church that first Sunday she was overwhelmed with the love she felt when so many of her church family appeared at the service wearing hats.
The women at another congregation were inspired to work together making a photo comforter for one of their sisters suffering from cancer. Knowing she had close friends living out of state, they too were invited to send photos to include with those of the congregation. Several women provided funds for the project, others were recruited to choose the right background fabric, cut and sew the squares, attach the border and stitch the binding. When it was completed the women were invited to come early to church one Sunday to tie all the knots, “because we wanted many hands to touch our gift so each of us could feel like it was made by all and given by all.” They took pictures of the knot tying to share with the out of state group so that they could feel part of the project.
Although it was to be a surprise gift, one of the emails was mistakenly sent to the recipient. The details were not included but certainly gave an awareness that something was coming. Because of the ‘mess up’ they decided to present a gag gift first. Two fuzzy kittens were presented in a cloth bag before the real gift was given, symbolizing they had ‘let the cat out of the bag.’ After observing the friend cuddle the kittens and much laughter they watched her open the real gift and observed her amazement of seeing photos of all who loved her dearly, including the out of state sisters, transferred onto fabric. A special note was attached: Dear Sweet Friend, How we love you! Because you are special to us, here is a symbol of our love and prayers, to cover you, comfort you, and remind you we are here with you and for you. We care about you. Prayers, hugs, and gratefulness, all for you! Friends.
Lorraine Eby, Sister Care Coordinator
Used by permission of the Burning Bush, Franklin Conference newsletter